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"But I still love him": Women talk about love and violence, and counsellors respond

This feminist research enacts a new materialist performance of theory/practice that investigates love-entangled-with-violence in intimate heterosexual partner relationship. The study investigates the double dilemma of a woman’s love-connectivity to her partner that refuses to be unfelt and unthought, despite the disturbance of violence, with the counselling conundrum of how to effectively and ethically respond. The data materials were generated in two cycles of group interviews. The initial waves of data were drawn from narratives told in interviews with women whose intimate partners had subjected them to physical abuses and coercive controls produced through accretions of surveillance, accusation and constraint. These narratives were haunted by intensities of love dis-join-ted. Consequently, the women engaged with counselling or therapeutic programmes. As researcher, I wanted to learn what women had to say about their experiences of therapy and to take these readings of therapy to a group of counsellors in collective documents. In a second wave of interviews, a group of counsellors offered practice accounts of justice-doing, cut together-apart with women’s struggle, refolded into ethical considerations for finding safety. In that sense, both the counsellors and women-in-danger traversed uncertain territory. Collaborative therapeutic practices, such as those the counsellor group described in this research, act as apparatuses for interference and contestibility, and hence, for change. The study’s originating questions were about how power/knowledge and domination (Foucault) is exercised in heterosexual partner relationship. The theoretical arc of the study took an early turn towards new materialisms (Barad) and the affective potentialities of human-nonhuman assemblages (Massumi). Entities such as vehicles, guns and a knife, queered the trajectory of the study towards differentiating encounters with the thing power of clusters of actants other than and including humans (Bennett). The analysis of the research materials emerges through a Baradian diffractive approach, which maps the effects of difference. Taking Barad’s proposal for the inseparability of matter-discourse, the study sometimes maps affecting moments for the researcher-self onto the theoretical positions of the thesis. The contributions of this thesis are for counselling practices that attend to matter⇔discourse, including other-than-human bodies. A new materialist iteration of narrative therapy, the culmination of this research work, offers shifts in conceptual accounts of affect, and how to address what matters. These differences-in-the-(re)making are themselves indeterminate and ongoing.  
Type of thesis
Snowdon, J. M. (Jenny). (2021). ‘But I still love him’: Women talk about love and violence, and counsellors respond (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14594
The University of Waikato
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